Recently I have become curious about the Gemini Project and the content that people have made available to be retrieved over the gemini:// protocol. I’m not convinced by the arguments for not just using http, and mostly it’s just that I typically find more things that I am interested in casually reading through on people’s gemlogs than I would on, say, reddit, and similar aggregators. But presumably advocates of gemini:// and the text/gemini format would argue that it’s various respects in which it differs from the web that makes geminispace conducive to the production of the sort of content you find there. So I’m remaining open minded about the possibility that having a completely separate protocol is important, and not just an annoyance because rss2email doesn’t work and I had to spend time writing gmi2email.

I now have a games console at home for the first time in some years, which I bought in response to the ongoing pandemic, and one thing that I have noticed is that using it feels like being offline in a way that playing games on a regular computer never would. It has a WiFi connection but it doesn’t have a web browser, and I am glad that using it provides an opportunity to be disconnected from the usual streams of information. And perhaps something similar ought to be said in favour of how the Gemini project does not just use http. There is, perhaps, a positive psychological effect induced by making the boundary between text/gemini and the web as hard as it is made by using gemini:// rather than http.

Something about which I find myself much more sceptical is how the specification for gemini:// and text/gemini is not extensible. Advocates of Gemini have this idea that they can’t include, say, a version number in the protocol, because the extensibility of the web is what has led to the problems they think it has, so they want to make it impossible. Now on the one hand perhaps the people behind Gemini are in the best position that anyone is in to come up with a spec which they will finalise and render effectively unchangeable, because a lot of them have been using Gopher for decades, and so they have enough experience to be able to say exactly what Gopher is missing, and be confident that they’ve not missed anything. But on the other hand, Gemini is one technological piece in attempts to make a version of the Internet which is healthier for humans – the so-called “small Internet” movement – and maybe there will be new ideas about how the small Internet should be which would benefit from a new version of the Gemini specification. So it seems risky to lock-in to one version.

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